HYDERABAD: Central Information Commissioner (CIC) M Sridhar Acharyulu (Madabhushi Sridhar) has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to inform whether forest rights of tribal people were recognised, and the written consent of the gram sabhas were obtained for the rehabilitation package under the Polavaram Irrigation Project.
The direction of CIC was in response to appellant D Suresh Kumar, who filed an RTI application with Forest Conservation Division of Union Environment and Forests ministry on November 10, 2014 seeking detailed information about Forest Clearance granted to the Polavaram Project.
Suresh Kumar, in his petition, sought copies of the report given by the special officer sent by the ministry and action taken thereon regarding the rights of the tribal people. He also sought the correspondence copies between the Centre and AP government. He contended that pursuant to grant of Stage-II Forest Clearance for Polavaram project, the MoEF received various representations from the affected villages of Polavaram project complaining about the non-implementation of Forest Right Act(FRA).
On this, the ministry after various communications with AP government about the non-implementation of FRA, on February 2, 2011, sent a letter to the then AP government stating that the Director General of Forest & Secretary (DGF&SS) would shortly visit the villages affected by the said project to have on the spot assessment of the matter.
Seeking relevant documents, Suresh Kumar had earlier filed an RTI Application at the Ministry of Environment and Forests, alleging that the government claimed all powers over forests against the people living in it.The CIC held that there was no reason to deny this information to the appellant.